Taking care of a loved one who has dementia can become increasingly difficult and stressful. As focus turns more to the needs of the loved one, people providing such care may feel they have little time and energy to put toward their own well-being.
Research has shown that aging and chronic stress can have negative effects on health, including immune function and psychological well-being. The challenges of caregiving can be a source of ongoing stress, especially as we get older. In fact, compared to non-caregivers, older individuals who care for someone with dementia tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, are at higher risk for depression, and have less responsive immune systems.
Finding effective strategies to reduce stress and promote well-being might lead to better immune function and improved overall wellness.
Two clinical trials are being conducted at the University of Rochester to determine effective ways to manage stress and improve wellness for individuals caring for a loved one with dementia. These studies are examining effects of various brief programs on caregivers’ stress and health, including approaches in brain training, healthy living as a caregiver, and mindfulness.
You may be eligible for a study if you are at least age 55 and are caring for a loved one (spouse, parent, close friend, etc.) who has dementia of any type or stage of progression.
Study participation is for the person caring for a loved one only (the caregiver); nothing would be requested of the individual with dementia.
Study visits are flexibly scheduled for your convenience (parking validation is provided), and monetary compensation is provided for study participation.
To learn more about a study, or to find out if you are eligible, please call:
(585) 275-6835 or email us at: email@example.com.
Much has changed since March 2020 when many research procedures were halted due to the spread of the coronavirus. Starting in June, most of these activities were permitted to resume given that important safety precautions were implemented.
Please know that the University of Rochester provides researchers with guidelines to help ensure study activities are conducted safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety precautions include pre-visit symptom screening, social distancing, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Our study team follows these guidelines carefully for the protection of our subjects, staff, and the community. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding study participation during this challenging time.
"Improving Well-Being for Older Adult Family Dementia Caregivers” is investigating the health effects of two brief programs designed to help manage stress, and improve wellness and immune function. Program participation would involve a weekly small-group meeting with other individuals age 55 and up who are caring for a loved one with dementia.
Participants take only one of the study programs:
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teaches better self-care and aims to reduce stress and improve overall wellness, while employing a variety of methods for promoting relaxation and awareness of physical experiences, emotions and thoughts.
Living Well for Dementia Caregivers covers a variety of topics relevant to health and well-being in the context of caring for someone with dementia. Facilitated by trained Alzheimer’s Association staff, this program also functions partly as a support group to better address the wants and needs of the participants.
Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jun-Aug 2020 enrollment phase for this study has been cancelled. We anticipate a final study enrollment phase will open in June 2021 and continue until the caregiver well-being programs begin in early September of that year. Please feel free to contact the study team at any time for more information.
"Brain Training to Promote Health in Family Dementia Caregivers" is investigating whether two types of in-home “brain-training” programs may have beneficial health effects by strengthening the brain to better manage stress. Individuals age 55-85 who are caring for a loved one with dementia may be eligible.
Program participation involves doing an activity at home on a computer a few times a week, at your convenience, over eight weeks. These activities involve either viewing a variety of educational/informational videos from a large catalog of choices, or practicing game-like exercises which are easy to learn and adapt to your own abilities.
Computer experience is not necessary to participate. If needed, a computer can be provided to you for the program activities.
Enrollment for the “Brain Training” study is anticipated to end around April 2021.
These studies are sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and have been approved by the University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board (STUDY0000881, STUDY0001991).
"Research to Promote Caregiver Well-Being”
U of R Study Team
Principal Investigator Kathi Heffner PhD, (right) and
former/retired Investigator Jan Moynihan, PhD (left)